New Telegraph

Ebonyi River crash: When mourners became the mourned

became the mourned I equally call on all the security agencies to, as a matter of urgency, expedite action in unveiling the reason behind the ugly occurrence as I urge drivers to always exercise caution while plying routes In Ebonyi State, it is sorrow, tears and mourning, following the plunging into river of a bus conveying passengers from a burial ceremony. Over 25 persons perished as UCHENNA INYA reports from Abakaliki

A 608 bus with registration number, UKP 78 XA had carried 32 members of Christ Peculiar Church of Nigeria, Enugu State branch, to attend a burial ceremony in Nguzu Edda, Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State on Friday last week. It however plunged into a river in Akaeze in Ivo Local Government Area of the state.

The passengers of the vehicle attended the burial of one of their Pastors who died. The burial was successful and no record of ugly incident was heard. But on their way back after the burial, multiple tragedies occurred following the plunging into the Akaeze River of the 608 bus which was carrying a total of 32 passengers.

The incident occurred on Friday evening. Ebonyi State government swung into action to recover victims inside the river and only five persons were recovered on that evening, out of which one of them gave up the ghost while four others, including the driver of the vehicle, Nwonu Chinedu, a native of Ikow Local Government Area of Ebonyi State were unconscious. About 13 passengers, including a retired Chief Superintendent of Police, Livinus Mbah, were still missing and had not been seen in the water as at the time of filling this report. The deceased, a female, was confirmed dead by a medical Doctor on arrival at Dennis Hospital Akaeze in the area while efforts were intensified to pull out the bus and recover the remaining 27 victims but to no avail.

The government then went to Cross River State and Rivers State and hired expert divers and cranes. The government’s efforts however paid off following the recovery of 14 bodies and pulling out of the bus from the river at about 3:30pm of Saturday, the following day. Chairman of Ivo Local Government Area, Onyebuchi Ogbadu, confirmed the recovery of the extra 14 corpses. According to him, the state government had to bring in divers from Rivers and Cross River states to help in the search of the bus. “The divers were able to locate the bus and pushed it up to enable the crane to pull it out”, he said.

The Chairman said they were still searching for the remaining passengers aboard the bus. “The driver said he was carrying 32 persons in the car. So, we are still looking for about 13 more persons or thereabout”. Ogbadu said the driver was able to dive out of the bus as it was plunging into the river and was one of those rescued on Friday.

The state Commandant of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Mrs. Stella Uchegbu, said: “We have recovered the vehicle. We have 14 persons; seven males, seven females, all adults and they are all dead. They have been taken to Mater Hospital mortuary in Afikpo. “But they are still divers from Port- Harcourt, who are there searching for more bodies because 14 bodies today and 5 bodies yesterday is 19 as against the expected 32 persons.

So, if you do the calculation, you can see that there are more persons expected to be recovered. The divers are still around and they are looking for more bodies.” On her part, the state Police Public Relations Officer(PPRO), DSP Loveth Odah said: “The driver of the said 608 coaster bus with Reg no. UKP 78X Nwaonu Chinedu, a native of Ikwo LGA of the State, is responding to treatment alongside three others as one yet to identify female victim was confirmed dead by a Medical Doctor on arrival at Dennis Hospital Akaeke in the Area.

The driver narrated that he conveyed 32 members of the Christ Peculiar Church of Nigeria, Enugu State branch to attend a burial ceremony at Nguzu Edda in Afikpo South LGA of the state. “14 corpses have been recovered (7 female and 7 male) together with the 608 Vehicle.

The corpses have deposited at Martha Memorial hospital mortuary Afikpo for preservation. Effort to rescue the other trapped persons among them is Chief Superintendent of Police, Livinus Mbah (rtd). The Executive Governor of Ebonyi State visited the scene of incident together with the Commissioner of Police Ebonyi State, who described the incident as very unfortunate one. He urges road users to avoid speed/reckless driving especially in this Ember months”.

Buhari, Umahi mourn

President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Dave Umahi have mourned victims of the motor accident on Akaeze-Ukwu River. Buhari’s condolence message was contained in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, titled “President Buhari sympathizes with Ebonyi State following Akaeze-Ukwu River tragedy”. According to the statement, Buhari expressed his condolences to the government and people of Ebonyi State over the motor accident. “We are saddened and aggrieved at this colossal loss of human lives,” the statement quoted the President as saying.

Buhari was said to have added that the thoughts and prayers of the government and people of Nigeria were with the families of the victims of this accident. He commended the Ebonyi State government for spearheading the rescue and recovery efforts as well as the support it has received from the neighbouring state governments in that regard. On his part, Governor Umahi, who visited the Akaeze bridge, the scene of the tragic accident, was visibly saddened by the ugly incident with misty eyes.

He ordered a full investigation into the tragedy, while warning drivers to always exercise caution while plying routes. At the scene of the incident, were personnel of the Nigerian Police, Federal Road Safety Corps, (FRSC) National Emergency Management Agency(NEMA) and Ebonyi State Emergency Management Agency. He sympathized with the families of the deceased, saying, “I am saddened over this ugly incident. It is indeed devastating but we cannot question God. “I sympathise with the families of those that are involved in this ugly incident and urge them to look unto God in this trying time as only Him can close the vacuum.

“I equally call on all the security agencies to as a matter of urgency, expedite action in unveiling the reason behind the ugly occurrence as I urge drivers to always exercise caution while plying routes.” The Mercedes Benz 608 Bus was said to be attempting to overtake a Man Diesel truck, when it plunged into the river, killing about 28 persons.

Read Previous

Embracing reality of digital currencies

Read Next

Why General Adeniyi hasn’t faced court martial

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *